Herbs have been used by Mankind as medicines for thousands of years. Plants were here long before we stood erect or insects came into being. Archaeologists have found a link between man and plants as far back as the Neanderthal, with a gravesite in Iraq containing spores from various herbs. It is believed that these herbs were placed in the grave as part of a burial rite. There are no definitive answers as to the origins of herbal expertise. Acute observation, coupled with trial and error, has played a predominant role. Human societies have had many generations to record the effects of eating a particular root, leaf or berry. Also, watching the behaviour of animals after they had eaten or rubbed against certain plants must have added to medicinal knowledge.
In ancient times, Egyptian Pharaohs were entombed with all they required for the after-life and this included a good selection of medicinal plants. The Greeks and Romans used herbs extensively, developing one of the earliest systems of medicine and recording the usage of many herbs. Further to the East, the Chinese developed their form of herbal medicine alongside acupuncture and the Indians worked on a system, which we now know as Ayurvedic medicine, encompassing many types of herbs.
In the West, herbs have been used as the starting material for many of the pharmaceutical medicines we know today. Digoxin was first used as the plant Digitalis and Aspirin was first isolated from the bark of the Willow. Despite the advances of modern healthcare and medicine, it is quite clear to many people that plant medicine, or Phytotherapy, still plays a very important part in the health of everyone today.